Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Love and eternity

‘He has also set eternity in the human heart’ Ecc 3:11

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
William Blake

I can see a connection between these two statements, there is something of substance here that is to be discovered. Eternity that is within us being explored, contemplated, believed and then to discover what is in creation and be able to connect the two. Is that possible? Is it possible to contemplate what/who we have within us, so we can see the world the same as the creator sees it, and in seeing can we touch it with the eternal? Is it possible to release the eternity that is within our spirit into our consciousness so we can experience the eternal here and now?
Love as an experience can be overwhelming, those moments when you feel your heart is expanding and it is almost as if it might explode if you don’t draw back from the intensity. We call it awe inspiring and we could say it is the breath of God on our deposit of eternity.
Love is the most powerful force and when we allow love to engage with our eternity there may well be an explosion.
Have a ponder and in the meantime, love.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Male and female, the image of God.

If humanity could grasp that God is as much feminine as masculine perhaps we would look to God for our identity rather than to a lesser version of freedom and equality.
The patriarchal system  fears women’s equality as it believes the inevitable change will be for the worse, therefore it refuses to allow women’s freedom or equality and will keep women from their freedom for as long as possible to avoid any change. It believes there will be a loss of power and control, which is true, but it will not be so women will then gain the power and control over men. There is a fear that maleness will be diminished if women are permitted equality, when in fact men will be released into their true position when women are.....There will be change and it will be so the fullness of what God’s children actually look like, can be revealed on the earth, perhaps that is what it is longing for…..

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

I don't think that means what you think it means....

“You keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means” Inigo Montoya The Princess Bride

‘The further away you travel from religion (and the I-have-all-the-answers-mind-set you inherit with it) the more freedom you find in asking questions about your faith. You no longer feel obligated to pledge undivided allegiance to your doctrines. You become pleased to put them on trial, to examine then, and to discard them if they are found to be without substance.’ Mick Mooney
‘Literalism is invariably the lowest and least level of meaning.’ Richard Rohr.

There are times when I hear or read something and think to myself; ‘I don’t think that’s what that means’. I can’t always put my finger on why, so I ponder it for a bit, read about it and then sometimes write about it, without finding any answers sometimes just asking the questions is enough…. I think there are all sorts of scriptures that have been taken out of context and whole doctrines and teaching programmes built up around them, which has the effect of ending up with something very different to what God intended. The scriptures about slavery are a classic example where the words were taken at face value and used to endorse the belief that slavery is ok. Not to mention those pesky scriptures about women….
Recently I heard something, that I’ve heard lots of times before, but this time the phrase above seemed to say it all; ‘I don’t think that means what you think it means’.
I need to pray for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit because if I don’t the demon that just left is going to wander around for a bit and then come back into you, it will see that there’s nobody home and go and get seven of its friends and they will all move in to you and you’ll be worse off than you were when you arrived for your deliverance ministry. Ok so you’ll probably have to become a Christian too or the Holy Spirit won’t be moving in so if you could just say this prayer and we’ll get started….’
Now it’s all biblical. Jesus said if one goes out, seven more move in….it’s all set out in Matthew 12:43 and Luke 11:24. Paraphrased: the spirit is cast out of a man, it wanders around in arid places and then deciding to go home, finds the place clean and tidy and goes off and gets seven more spirits to move and the man is in a worse condition than he was before.
So why don’t I like it?
My starting point would be that Jesus isn’t setting out a teaching programme on deliverance to his disciples and on that basis we need to be very careful if we decide to make it one. Jesus told parables and used one thing to point to another. In these scriptures he isn’t delivering a person of a demon, the context is he’s just been accused of delivering demons by demons and is setting out for them what kind of a generation they are. He could be saying, ‘if you get rid of one thing that is bad for you and don’t replace it with anything else you’ll find you miss the bad thing and go for it seven times more than you did before’. He could be saying ‘just one prayer of repentance isn’t enough, you need to then live a life of belief or you’ll be worse off than had you not repented in the first place.’ In relation to the crowd he’s talking to, they’d gone down to repent with John and not long after were calling for Jesus to be crucified…..the point I’m trying to make is, he wasn’t doing a teaching session on deliverance.
My other thought is, if he was giving specific teaching into how to deal with people who need deliverance, there is no mention of praying for the man to be filled with the Holy Spirit to stop the demons coming back. In this scripture the man is just left worse off…
Also, there are instances of people being delivered of demons in the gospel accounts without any reference to them being prayed for to be filled with the Spirit straight away, something of a problem for all those who were delivered if they were then worse off after Jesus prayed for them. We get into a Monty Python sketch at that point - alms for an ex-leper!
But what makes me think we really need to think this through is the impact on people who come to us for help and the message we are giving them.
If we tell them they are possessed, need deliverance and whilst we can get rid of the demon that is afflicting them, we can’t keep it out unless they sign up to Christianity because they can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit unless they are saved and they need to be filled with the Holy Spirit or seven more demons will come back with the first and then they’ll be worse off, we better be darn sure that is what Jesus said to do.
I’m concerned about the person with mental health issues, suffers with depression, epilepsy, anxiety, bi-polar, schizophrenia, addiction and any array of difficulties that is told by us that they are possessed. How will they react if they have a relapse? Will they believe the demons are back? What will they think of the power of the Holy Spirit? What will they think about their own salvation? It’s a bit lame to think they won’t have a relapse unless they do something to invite the demons back in, then we’re in the theology of Christians getting possessed and the demonic being stronger than the Holy Spirit…’s not really good enough to say they won’t have a relapse if they’ve been delivered properly and it’s much more likely they have a relapse because they didn’t have a demon in the first place and they have health issues that need medical intervention and a loving community to care for them.
What then? Should we not cast out demons when it is part of the great commission? I don’t really know how ‘deliverance’ fits into the modern world and unless I meet someone whose head is spinning I’ve no intention of starting at ‘they’re possessed and need deliverance’.
Here’s as far as I’ve got with my thinking– I don’t think that scripture means what we’ve taught it means. We need to be careful what we are enacting and be sure it is based on what the bible says in its entirety rather than from a couple of scriptures.
We should see the person in front of us and realise the majority of people are struggling with their identity, lost in who they are and who God is, unaware that they are made in the image of God, lied to about their identity and lied to about God. Our ministry is to inform them of the good news that they have been reconciled to God, the enemy is defeated and they are held in the loving embrace of the Trinity. Love them and be careful with their mind. People are so precious and we can get so caught up in healing and deliverance we forget there is a person in front of us who first and foremost needs to know they are loved.